The 20 Best Things to do in Melbourne, Australia for First Timers

State Library of Victoria

If you’re planning to visit Melbourne, Australia, then it’s time to start making your itinerary. While there are some great travel agencies with package deals, they only include the most popular tourist attractions. There are some fantastic opportunities for memorable experiences in the city if you know where to go. To make your visit even more special, we’ve created a short guide that includes the best things to do in Melbourne, Australia for first-timers.

Australian National Sports Museum

20. Visit the Australian National Sports Museum

Melbourne is home to the National Sports Museum where you can schedule a tour or go on your own. The museum offers 75-minute tours where you can relive some of the greatest moments in the history of Australian sports with a knowledgeable tour guide. The tours also include a walkthrough and explanation of the Olympic Museum and the Australian Gallery of Sport. If you’re visiting during the wintertime you can even catch a football game or cricket in the summertime.

Federation Square

19. Tour Federation Square

Federation Square was opened to the public in 2002. It was created to celebrate the 100th year of federations. It’s since become a huge tourist attraction that is often one of the first places tourists begin their tours. You’ll find it across from Flinders Street Station. This is a great place to take photos with its lovely Victorian architecture around. There are a few thousand evens held yearly at the square so check in advance to find out what’ being offered.

National Gallery of Victoria

18. See the National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria is Melbourne’s oldest public art gallery. The venue is split between two locations within the city. It’s been open to the public since 1968 with periodic renovations. The tour begins with a visit to the Great Hall to view the stained glass ceiling. The extensive collection holds over 70,000 pieces of art. Included are the works of Frederick McCubbin, and some notable aboriginal artists.

Royal Botanic Gardens

17. Spend an afternoon at the Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens is a must-see for all first-timers in Melbourne. The GArdens are not far from the Yarra River. The GArdens have been open since 1846 and here you’ll find over 8,500 different plant species. Many of the plants are exceptionally rare. While there, check out the Aboriginal Heritage WAlk and visit the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden for an afternoon of sheer relaxation and enjoyment. This is an activity that is completely free of charge. Here you’ll also find a cinema that is set up for moonlight moviegoers so bring a picnic basket and your blankets for an evening of enjoyment.

Southbank and Arts Centre in Melbourne

16. Tour the Southbank and Arts Centre in Melbourne

The Southbank and Arts Centre is not far from Flinders Street Station. There are tons of cultural attractions in this area. You should plan on spending several hours if not the entire day here to catch some of the shows in the theaters as well as performances of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. There are also tons of arts and crafts at the Sunday arts and crafts market. You can catch a bite to eat at one of the many indoor/outdoor cafes and restaurants in this area.

Eureka Tower

15. Visit Eureka Tower

Eureka Tower is another popular attraction in Melbourne. It is a 91 story structure with a gold crown and gold plated windows. You can catch a great view of the city and surrounding area from the Skydeck that is found on the 88th floor of the skyscraper. While you’re there, visit The Edge. It’s a glass cube that slides out of the building a full three meters from the building, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building

14. See the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building

Another must-see while visiting Melbourne is the Museum and Royal Exhibition Building. It’s a modern collection of art that depicts Australian cultures and society. You’ll find the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre here as well as the Phar Lap exhibit. There is also a children’s gallery with lots of fun hands-on activities for the young ones. You may tour the Royal Exhibition Building that was constructed in 1880. Tours are available or you can see them on your own.

Royal Arcade

13. Spend an afternoon at the Royal Arcade

The Royal Arcade is found near Flinders, Bourke, and Collins Streets. The lanes and Alleyways are exciting and interesting for first-time visitors to Melbourne. When you’ve had enough fun wandering around, visit the Block Arcade in Collins Street to see the mosaic floor. There are lots of interesting shops here. While you’re at it, stop in at the Hopetoun Tearooms for an afternoon or even morning tea. The building was constructed in 1982. The Royal Arcade is the oldest of its kind in Melbourne. This is guaranteed to leave you with memories that will last for a lifetime.

Queen Victoria Market

12. Spend the day at Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market is a great place to find fresh produce and shop for souvenirs. The market was established in 1878. Here you can find some great items to remind you of your visit to Melbourne. There are vendors in different stalls that sell toys, unique souvenirs, clothing, art, and all kinds of different foods. You can book a tour of the market or go on your own. The market is open five days a week. During the evenings there are also night markets, music concerts, and tons of other special events during the summer months.

Parliament House

11. Tour the Parliament House

The Parliament House is located at Queen and Victoria Streets in Melbourne. This is one of the less frequently visited attractions, but it’s well worth your time. This building was constructed during the time of the Gold Rush. You’ll marvel at the lavishly decorated interior of the house with a mosaic floor, gold leaf accents, and fancy chandeliers. You can schedule a tour at no cost on Mondays through Fridays when the parliament isn’t meeting.

Immigration Museum

10.Visit the Immigration Museum

The Immigration Museum retells an important piece of Australia’s history. It’s situated in the Old Customs House. Here you will find a permanent collection of exhibits that tell the stories of the people who came to Melbourne from different parts of the world, to settle in a new land that they could call home. The collection is engaging and interactive with some special exhibitions from time to time. Learn about what it was like for the people who were required to pass through the customs section here to gain access to Melbourne.

Visit Luna Park

9. Visit Luna Park

Luna Park in Melbourne’s historic amusement park. It opened in 1912 for the entertainment of the general public. It’s one of the best places to visit in Melbourne. Here you’ll find a lot of fun and entertaining things to do. It’s a great place to take the entire family for a full day of fun and excitement. The cost of admission is inexpensive and the old retro feeling that you get from the amusement park will create lasting memories so don’t forget to take lots of pictures while you’re there.

Go to Docklands

8. Go to Docklands

No trip to Melbourne is complete without a visit to the newest waterfront entertainment area. Docklands is a must-see for all first-timers. Here you’ll find the biggest collection of buildings that are green-star rated. You’ll have your choice of parklands, tourist attractions, and plenty of restaurants and cafes to grab a snack or complete meal at the satellite village.

Melbourne Star

7. Go into the Melbourne Star

This recommendation is in conjunction with your visit to Docklands because that’s where the Melbourne Star is located. It’s a giant observation wheel and something you won’t’ want to miss. While you’re there, check out the Etihad Stadium and the Junior Wonderland amusement part, and the art and vintage market that is held there on Sundays.

City Circle Tram Tour

6.Take the City Circle Tram Tour

If you want to get a good view of Melbourne, one of the best ways is to take a City Circle Tram Tour. The tour will take you via tram, to the most amazing historic buildings in all of Melbourne. Just a few of the attractions that you’ll see on the tour include the Windsor Hotel, the Princess Theatre, the Old Treasury Building, and the Parliament House. You should plan for an hour to complete the tour. Trams leave the station every 12 minutes.

Shrine of Remembrance

5. See the Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance is another cool tourist attraction. It is situated in Kings Domain Gardens and was built in commemoration of the Great War (WWI), to honor those men and women who served. It’s particularly lively on April 25 (ANZAC Day) and again on November 11 (Remembrance Day) of each year as special events are held on these days. You can either book a guided tour or take a self-guided tour. This is a lovely building to see and photograph at night when the lights are turned on.

Melbourne Zoo

4. Spend an afternoon at the Melbourne Zoo

The Melbourne Zoo was established in 1862 and it sits on more than 22 hectares with over 320 animal species. You can learn much about elephants through the educational Trail of the Elephants exhibit. There is also an Orangutan sanctuary within the zoo as well as many different tours and even music concerts held some evening at twilight.

Captain Cook's Cottage, Fitzroy Gardens

3. Visit Captain Cook’s Cottage, Fitzroy Gardens

While in Melbourne you also must visit Captain Cook’s Cottage. It’s situated in Fitzroy Gardens. The cottage was moved from its original location in Yorkshire, England, and set up in Melbourne. This is Captain James Cook’s original home. The cottage is filled with tales of the adventures of Cook. While you’re there, check out the conservatory and let the kids play at Fairy Tree and the tiny Tudor village.

Yarra River Cruise

2. Take a Yarra River Cruise

One of the best ways to see the sights of Melbourne is aboard a Yarra River Cruise. These guided tours take you on a riverboat to motor down the Yarra and see the sights from the river. Quite a few cruise companies are offering a variety of different tours. You’ll see some of the most amazing sights from the river. The river cruise is a good place to start to get an idea of the places you want to visit by car or on foot.

State Library of Victoria

1. Visit the State Library of Victoria

No trip to Melbourne would not be complete without a visit to the State Library of Victoria. This is an old historic building that was constructed in the year 1856. The library is possibly the most popular tourist attraction with more than 8 million visitors a year gracing the grounds. The library is the home of a central rotunda with an octagonal shape with dark wood furniture that is original from the time it was built. Books line the walls. It’s a lovely sight to behold if you’re a fan of libraries. It’s evolved into a gathering place for several events that are held throughout the year. It’s a good idea to check the schedule in advance of the visit to see what’s going on while you’re there.

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